Golf Instruction


I’ve talked a lot on this blog about the awfulness of Charles Barkley’s golf swing.

Well, with props to the Aussie Golfer who posted this earlier in the week, I present to you the worst golf swing ever. This old fella makes Charles Barkley look like Ben Hogan.

Just watching this video makes me hurt. It’s an embarassment to bad golf swings everywhere.

So if you are struggling with your golf game, it’s time to feel better about yourself. In all fairness, though, I think he actually makes solid contact. He probably got a bad case of whiplash, too, but solid contact nonetheless. Enjoy.

I’ve always loved the practice green.

To me, there’s just something peaceful about it, something you don’t find on the driving range—crammed in between two dozen guys wacking oversized drivers.

practice green

(Image: Robert Bruce's iPhone)

The practice green is quiet. Most decent courses have larger greens, so I can find a corner, throw down a few balls, and practice five-foot putts for hours—literally. The “tink” of the ball off my Ping Anser puts me in some kind of Ben Crenshaw-induced trance.

In college, I worked as a cart guy at the same course at which I was a member. On Mondays, when the course was closed, I could still play because I was also an employee. I spent many a Monday evening in the summer lining up a perfect five-foot circle of balls around a golf hole.

On more than a few occasions, the superintendent scolded me for leaving deep footprints on the green. Yeah, when you practice the same five-foot-putt for two hours, that tends to happen.

Yesterday, I spent an hour on the green, practicing everything from two-footers to thirty-footers. There is nothing more definite and satisfying in golf than watching that small white ball disappear into black nothingness. Or something like that.

If you’ve just started playing golf, don’t let anyone fool you. Your short game is vital to your success on the course. Thirty to fifty percent of your shots will come from putting—even more when you include chipping.

Too many golfers fall in love with the driver, try to bomb everything, and spend zero time on the practice green. A five-foot putt counts just as much as a 300-yard drive—and, don’t fool yourself, you aren’t hitting 300 yard drives anyway (perhaps some foreshadowing to a future pet peeve?).

Spend some time on the practice green, and you’ll be amazed at how many shots you can save on the course. Since few golfers practice putting, you’ll find the practice green to be a peaceful, solitary place.

If Thoreau was a golfer, he would’ve been a great putter.

One of the highlights of our annual vacation to Amelia Island last week was my golf lesson with Anne Cain.

golf magAs one of Golf Magazine‘s Top 100 Teachers, Cain’s tips and instruction are often featured in the monthly magazine. She teaches at the Golf Club of Amelia Island. Besides that, she played at the University of Georgia–which, if you’ve read much of this blog, you’ll know that makes her automatically cool in my book.

Her setup is quite technologically advanced and includes a small building with tons of video equipment, a golf tee that automatically tees up your ball, “hot lines” which make the tee drop into the ground when your swing gets off plane, and a lot of other cool stuff.

She is also miked up, which allows her to record the entire lesson. I took home a DVD of the lesson so I can watch the entire hour any time.

Cain uses Sam Snead’s teaching philosophy. Snead taught that ball position should be the same for every club—off the left heel. The stance should narrow with each club. So your stance with a driver will be much wider than your stance with a wedge, but the ball position will be the same for each. Jack Nicklaus used this technique as well.

My main takeaways from the lesson: 1) My setup was off. My stance was too wide, the ball was too far back, and my head wasn’t far enough behind the ball. 2) My backswing was starting inside the proper plane and was too long, which caused my downswing to be—you guessed it—over the plane.

 My downswing is way too steep actually—a problem that I hope to fix with Cain during my as-yet-unscheduled next lesson with her.

As I mentioned before, when your swing goes too far inside or outside, Anne has her equipment rigged so that the tee actually drops under the ground. It’s immediate feedback which helps you learn the proper “feel” quickly.

Anyway, I would highly recommend a visit to Anne Cain if you’re in north Florida or south Georgia. I haven’t watched my swing on video since my college golf days, so my experience was quite eye-opening.

Since the lesson, I’ve been bombing my driver but struggling with my wedges and irons. Funny how golf is: my best round in Florida–76–took place before the lesson. Afterwards, I shot 77 and 82. But my swing feels much more sound and compact–and the best part is that I now understand what I need to fix.

If I can figure out a way to get a DVD onto some type of usable online video, I’ll post parts of the lesson that include my swing. My technical skills are limited, so that may be doubtful.

Travis Fulton over at PGATour.com currently has a solid feature on Rory Sabbatini’s swing.

I’m not a Sabbatini fan. I think he’s an obnoxious jerk, actually.

rory

Rory takes the club well past parallel on his backswing. (Image: dmader50/Flickr)

But he’s got an interesting swing that creates a lot of lag. As Fulton says, Rory’s backswing is not one you want to imitate because he takes the club well past parallel, but his downswing illustrates why he’s won five events on Tour, including last week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational. He’s able to compensate for the long backswing quite well.

You create lag when the clubhead trails the hands during the swing. The more lag you create, the more power you generate. Ben Hogan’s swing had an incredible amount of lag. For me, it’s always been a problem, and that’s why I’ve never been a long hitter.

I won’t go through Fulton’s analysis of Rory’s swing. You can check that out here. Suffice to say, Rory has a powerful swing. But he’ll never be Tiger Woods, though he sometimes thinks he’s capable.

Tune into the Golf Channel to find out. According to the USA Today, Barkley will get instruction from Tiger Woods’ swing coach, Hank Haney, with the Round Mound of Rebound being the centerpiece of a Golf Channel based reality show.

Haney will earn his bucks if he can get Barkley swinging even semi-respectable. Sir Charles’ woeful swing was posted all over You Tube, after his last place finish at the American Century Championship, a celebrity golf tournament.

No word yet on when the series will start, but I’ll be tuning in. Haney is used to working with Tiger, among other pros, so it will be interesting to see how he handles Barkey’s amazingly bad, bad golf swing.

Check out some of my more recent posts on this show:

Lose the Hitch, Charles Barkley!

Charles Barkley: Golf Psychology 101

Hank Haney is a Genius

Charles Barkley Likes to Box

Charles Barkley: My Golf Game Sucks

Barkley, Haney Show Announced on Golf Channel